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High Speed Rail: The New Crappy Way to Get Nowhere

So the administration has rolled out its high speed rail plan. Perhaps not suprisingly, it look very similar to the old crappy rail system.

The old and new rail system

The old and new rail system

The old joke is that trains give you all the discomfort of airline travel, but in six times the time. The rail plan calls for trains to travel 100 miles per hour, so the joke should be revised to four times.

The fact is, trains are a great idea in a country the size of Japan, France or Britain, that you can backpack across in a day. They suck, just a little bit, for travel across a country 3000 miles wide. Why take a high-speed train that gets you from LA to NY in two days when you can fly and be there in 5 hours?

High-speed trains would be a better idea for high traffic commuter corridors. As an example, look closely at the map and you’ll notice you still can’t travel North. There is no connector between Oklahoma and Kansas City, or anywhere in Georgia up through Kentucky, Tennessee and into Indiana.

You can’t get from Albuquerque to Denver, Denver to Phoenix, Phoenix or Albuquerque to Salt Lake City, or any of those cities to anywhere in Texas.

If you are a salesman in the southwest, you can get to Chicago faster than you could run there, that’s true. Chances are most of your travel will still be by air, and flying short distances within your region, though.

It looks to me like someone went to Amtrak and said, “If you could go to all the same places using the same shitty routes, but do it marginally faster, what would that look like?”

Congrats, guys. You batted their answer out of the park.

Written by Michael Turk